Eighty years passed since the actions of the Nazi regime under Hitler caused six million deaths. A comparison should make the number more imaginable:
The South American country El Salvador has 6.421 mio. inhabitants and with the consequences of Hitlers mass murder the country would be completely wiped out.
German cities such as Berlin, Cologne or Hamburg would be erased as well.
From 1941 until 1945 almost all members of the Jewish community were expropriated in the German sphere of influence, tortured and murdered. Things that should never be forgotten.
On 13th of February 2021 we participated in the counter demonstration in Dresden.
At the central station a banner was raised up with the inscription: “You call it liberation we call it mass murder!” (“Ihr nennt es Befreiung, wir nennen es Massenmord!”) Not much happened at first and the banner was tolerated for a while by the attending police officers. This is a good example of what the day meant for right-wing forces. Perpetrators turn into victims and the allied powers that freed Europe from fascism turn evil.
The bombings of Dresden, Chemnitz and many other German cities costed many victims. However none of these attacks can be compared or even set equal with the genocide of the Jewish community. The myth of being victims is used by many representatives of the AfD and NPD in order to legitimize the denial of the past and their own actions. This practice should make us think thus it is not made up out of thin air rather than myths that do exist among the population being far away from any legitimate way of dealing with history.
After the end of the second world war the Nuremberg Trials were the short moment where some perpetrators were accused and partly convicted. But what happened afterwards, what happened within the society? A big silence was predominant that influenced a whole generation. The atrocities, the horror of the daily life of Jews remained unspoken. Who was involved? Who was there? Where did my neighbour, my grandparents participate in?
Is this dealing with the past? Well not really and just like this the myth can still exist until this very day.
The destruction of Dresden as “an unimportant and insignificant city of culture” originated in the ministry of propaganda under Goebbels is no subject of interest for the people in Dresden until today. Effective Nazi propaganda can therefore still be found in the narratives told about the bombed German cities. Because it is important to remember own casualties. Collective? Without naming cause and perpetrators? No thanks. This way of dealing with the responsibility hindered Fritz Bauer making it impossible to press charges against Adolf Eichmann in Germany because Nazis were in positions of power in the judiciary and also partly the government who actively prevented the just revision of history.
German history continued this way as most of the time members of the Jewish community were the minority as the only ones calling out names of individuals and demanding a truthful dealing with the past.
Does dealing with the past look like that? Not even to some extent. There was the generation of silence and cover-up. After there was the generation of not-asking or can your parents tell what your grandparents did under the Nazi regime? Where they were? This will be unlikely in any case. The 1968 movement protested and tried to reveal what happened but it still was not the wish of the majority even if we want it to be different. Many times perpetrators turn into victims because everyone was a victim during the war and grandma and grandpa were members of the resistance anyways. In regard to historic estimations 0.3% of the population under the Nazi regime helped those who were persecuted. So everyone can figure out to what extent the tellings about resisting are really the truth. Relatives of those six millions Jews could see this more as a mockery than actual atonement. Now there is the danger that a generation of a final stroke will form that think that the past has nothing to do with them or that they are not responsible for the wrongdoings. History should remain history so in the past. Exactly this nourishes Nazis within the AfD who talk about the bird shit (“Vogelschiss”) or equalize the Nazi regime with the GDR.
Though it is not necessary to look at far-right structures to see what is going on. The shifting of what is utterable, denying or talking down history or comparisons are established that are so repulsive it just makes you puke.
We can see it right now in the movements around conspiracies. Things are decontextualized. People are not allowed to enter restaurants, have to wear masks due to the global pandemic and then see themself as the new Jews. Such understanding would not arise if a just revision of history would have taken place. Twisting historical facts in a very perfidious way is used here in a very perfidious way,
These actions should not be tolerated or approved by the society. Statements such as the one from 17th of November 2020 in Karlsruhe: “I feel like Anne Frank as she needed to be quiet in order not to be caught.” (“Ich fühle mich wie Anne Frank, wo sie muksmäuschen still sein musste um nicht erwischt zu werden.”) can be seen as being revisionist and antisemitic and should be claimed as those as well as clearly rejected.
A society that does not support victims and can not call out their own responsibility for events that took place led to what happened in October 2019. Stephan B. was armed and tried to enter the synagogue in Halle. His goal: to kill the Jewish community that was celebrating Yom Kippur on this day, the most important Jewish holiday. He killed two people and hurt many more. The attack was streamed live on the internet. The perpetrator was convinced that the Jewish community controlled the muslim flow of migration into Europe. The conspiracy of the Great Replacement.
In his opinion Jews are the driving force behind the secret plan of replacing the Christian population in Europe with a muslim one. During his attack he was physically alone in his mind he was not. Because he is the tip of the iceberg of an even bigger problem in Germany which is antisemitism. It is therefore not about a reluctance towards a world religion and more about the general wish to destroy Jewish life. Antisemitic sterotypes tie up with many elements of propganda used by the Nazis to cause isolation and exticntion of Jewish life.
It does not matter if demonizing, shortening or conspiracies in general all of this ends up in marginalization and destruction. Jewish people can not live free or fearless in Germany despite a society that thinks it knows its past. As well as averting the inclusion of the Shoah in German commemoration the current existing of antisemitism remains unspoken or relativised until attacks or far-right groups do not permit such inaction. Thus fundamental problems are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to existing problems of this society. If this society is not capable of making things clear such as the wide-spread antisemitism and the responsibilities of whole generations Jewish people will never feel safe in this society. It needs precise actions that start with naming the causes and the offenders on such days as well as contains the support of Jewish life and acknowledgement of as well as the work against antisemitism.
This is a long journey which is worth fighting for.
First of September is International day of peace. Events such as reminding of the remains of the offenders are exactly what is needed on the days after the bombings. It should be stated clearly that this is caused by such things and a reversal of victims and offenders should be prevented. Every one of us can do something such as asking questions to your parents, to your grandparents, question the told stories and what is scientifically proven to be true, visit the work of contemporary witnesses, visit historical sites and intervene whenever possible when it comes to revisionists and take a stand against antisemitism. A just dealing with the past is far away from being reality and needs every conscious look. On days like today fighting against forgetting, downplaying and twisting regardless from whom it is coming from.
Remembering the victims of the Nazis means fighting and pointing out the real perpetrators. It is our duty as antifascists. No final stroke! Never!
“It happened so it can happen again!”